Thursday, August 23, 2012

Germany's Reincarnation

Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1991) - Godard
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The film is Godard's contemplation of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The aged Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) from Alphaville, slated as the last spy, marooned in East Germany, wanders across grey landscapes asking in French, "Which way is the west?" to equally confused bystanders. There are no similarities between the two films. Godard merely re-appropriates Caution as the archetype of cold war (in itself a parody) whose stone carved face stood on a solid ground and even more solid philosophy. Some thirty years later, he is nothing more than a relic and out of his element.

Godard is as critical of the failure of communism in the East as the Germany's Fascist past and rampant capitalism of the West. With jarring grey old film clips playing constantly sped up or slowed down and the classical music soundtrack by the greats- Liszt, Mozart, Bach, 90 Nine Zero is also contemplates the decline of culture and art. It works better in the last third when Caution finally reaches the West. He notices an East German girl he saw before, working as a maid in a fancy hotel he is staying in. He asks, "So you wanted to be free, huh?" and she answers, "Work makes you free (Arbeit macht frei)," which was the trademark of the concentration camp slogan. It is fitting even in the opulent west. With the soundtrack by Mozart, Liszt and Bach, 90 Nine Zero is yet another beautiful, biting one by Godard.